A landmark San Francisco Bay inn has a dark future.
Historic East Brother Light Station, and its adjoining bed & breakfast, lost power when the underwater cable connecting it to the mainland was cut on April 1.
And now the Coast Guard charged with the lighthouse’s management says that solar power might be the best solution, according to SFGate.com.
That leaves the future of the inn in doubt, according to lightkeeper Desiree Heveroh, who lives on the three-quarter-acre island near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
“We showed [the US Coast Guard] around,” Heveroh told SFGate, “and they basically said, ‘It would be cheaper for us just to put the light in the tower on a solar panel.’ So they’re not going to replace the cable, which leaves us with no power at all. And their responsibility is done.”
The lighthouse beacon charges when Heveroh turns on her generator to temporarily power her refrigerator and other necessities. But the cost of replacing the cable, a minimum of $100,000 she says, is forcing the Coast Guard to look at other sources of power for the lighthouse.
The bed & breakfast will have to scramble to find power, too – a problem exacerbated since COVID-19 forced the inn to close and money is tight.
Heveroh says she feels like she’s stepped back time. She stays warm by packing the fireplace in the morning with eucalyptus bark and twigs collected around the island, jars fruit to prevent it from spoiling, and boats to the mainland to get diesel fuel or antique machinists to work on the generator.
“[The Coast Guard] said outright — their responsibility is to make sure the light in the tower is flashing,” she said, “and they can do that in a much more economic way by putting it on solar rather than replacing the cable.”